Asheville Speakeasys and other trends


This nostalgic trip back to the days of prohibition is taking place nation-wide. Speakeasies have popped up in NYC, DC, Austin, LA and everywhere in between, including North Carolina

Top of the Monk (classic cocktails and companioned bites) – 92 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC, upstairs from Thirsty Monk.

  • Open for business
  • How to get in: look for the antique elevator panel embedded in a door to the left of Thirsty Monk
  • When you order a drink, you’ll get a key. Use the key to retrieve your small complimentary serving of food from an old-style P.O. Box (left in photo below). During prohibition, this practice of free food with a drink was called a “free lunch” and most often included very salty food meant to induce thirst.
  • Head up to the rooftop deck for a great view. Be prepared to stand while enjoying your drinks.
  • Website:
  • The Thirsty Monk on Urbanspoon
Top of the Monk

Thirsty Monk South – opening soon in Biltmore Park. Originally, owners planned on moving the Gerber Village Monk to Biltmore Park, but nixed that plan. Both will be staying open.

  • Rumor has it there will be a secret speakeasy behind a bookcase.
  • A large, new brewery space for the Monk, with tanks visible from the bar, will consist of a “four barrel brewery and over 3,000 square feet of space.”
  • It will be located next to Natural Impressions in Two Town Square – MAP
  • Website:
  • Thirsty Monk South on Urbanspoon

Thirsty Monk

Nightbell – “Coming to downtown Asheville Winter 2013” at 32 S Lexington Ave.

  • A second location for the family-owned Curate with a completely different twist, which they hope to have open in time for New Year’s Eve, 2013.
  • Signage will be minimal and there will be a doorman (more for fun than anything).
  • They’ll be serving cocktails, small plates and high end wine.
  • Expect dun decor and a menu including 1950s throwback items, leaning toward “finger foods”, wines by the bottle, with a half dozen or so by the glass.
  • Website:
  • Nightbell on Urbanspoon




Cider  Mark Williams, executive director of Agribusiness Henderson County has said there may be as many as half a dozen ciderys coming on line over the next couple of years in Western NC. Because of renewed interest in brewing cider, area farmers are looking at increasing crops of tart, acidic, higher-tannin apples, as well as possibly producing their own version of the drink. For more on cider brewing in NC, see “Hard cider finds new life in the Carolinas“.

Nobel Cider, (production facility) Fletcher, NC. Began brewing hard cider in 2012 using local, WNC apples. A tasting this past week leads me to believe the foursome behind Nobel are headed for long term success. It’s deliciously fresh and light.

Noble Hard Cider

St. Paul Mountain Vineyard, 588 Chestnut Gap Rd, Hendersonville: Bottled their first 1,000 gallon run this past summer and has plans to increase production to 3,000 gallons next year.


Blue Ridge Distilling Co, 228 Redbud Ln, Bostic: Their Defiant Single Malt Whiskey is made by a bunch of guys who work (deep sea salvage world-wide) and play hard, with a penchant for quality in both. See more information and photos here.

Defiant Whiskey


Blue Kudzu Sake Co, 372 Depot St, Suite 60, Asheville: Four friends partnered, opening the fourth micro-sake brewery in the nation earlier this month. The tanks are in and ready. As soon as permits are in hand, production of their own sake will begin. Go now for an amazing selection of sake and small, Asian-themed plates from their kitchen. More about Blue Kudzu and photos here.

Blue Kudzu Sake

Moonshine NC – VisitNC list of moonshine distillers

Troy and Sons, 12 Old Charlotte Hwy, Asheville. Yep. A mom named Troy and her sons.

“True mountain moonshine is made from corn, and we hunted throughout the WNC mountains for the perfect strain – and found it just a few miles from Asheville. The corn had become virtually extinct everywhere except on the McEntire Farm…believed to be lost from Eastern Tennessee since 1840. Crooked Creek Corn™ is an heirloom open-pollinated white corn that has been grown on the McEntire farm for over one hundred twenty years. Analyzed by researchers at the University of Tennessee, this “lost corn” is an unadulterated, non-genetically modified original American corn, making our moonshine a true American spirit. Each batch of Troy & Sons moonshine is made using Crooked Creek Corn™ and locally milled Southern white corn”

Piedmont Distillers, 203 E Murphy St., Madison – Junior Johnson Midnight Moon and Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine. Tours available

Junior Johnson Midnight Moon: “The Johnsons were moonshiners before, during and after Prohibition.” More interesting family/moonshine history here.

“When agents busted his family’s home Junior said, “We thought this was fun.” “The lawmen didn’t. They’d say, ‘You damn kids get off them cases.’ And we’d say, ‘You get outta here. This is our house.’” Junior’s distilling roots go all the way back to the Whisky Rebellion. To avoid taxation on their homemade whisky, his family traveled down the Appalachian Mountains and eventually settled in North Carolina. The Johnsons, like many other farming families, relied on the money from their whisky to survive. If they had paid the taxes on their spirits, they would not have had enough money to take care of the family.”

Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine: Crafted for use in cocktails

Howling Moonshine Distillery, Asheville: “Mountain Moonshine made by Mountain Moonshiners” – Permitted to begin production sometime around January, 2012, shine is in Cody Bradford’s blood. Tours by appointment.

“[Cody’s] father, uncle, grandfather, great uncle, and great great grandfather all made moonshine in these mountains.”

Moonshine SC

Palmetto Moonshine, 200 W Benson St., Anderson:

“On January 5, 2011, the State of South Carolina issue Palmetto Moonshine a permit to make LEGAL moonshine and become the first micro-distillery to make the (previously illegal) liquor that has been selling in these parts [SC] for hundreds of years…and so the journey to greatness began!”

Dark Corner Distillery, 241 B North Main St., Greenville: Tastings and tours daily.

“. . . a craft micro distillery located on Main Street in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. Our focus is on producing small batches of the World’s Best Moonshine, aged whiskey, gin, absinthe and other distilled spirits while educating locals and tourists alike about our rich Appalachian heritage. “


The Hop Ice Cream Cafe, 640 Merrimon Ave, Asheville and 721 Haywood Rd, Asheville: What really sticks out here are dedication to, and support of, community, as well as an uncanny ability to come up with unique flavors for their homemade ice cream. Do not judge a flavor by it’s name. Taste! I haven’t had anything that’s been less than fabulous at The Hop.

The Hop - Greg and Ashley
Owners Ashley and Greg

“Premium quality Ice Cream homemade with love in Asheville, NC since 1978. Dairy, Vegan, Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Local Goat Milk Ice Cream & Sorbet Flavors. Milkshakes, sundaes, smoothies & desserts. Locally-roasted organic fair-trade Coffee & Espresso. Free weekly family-friendly entertainment. Free Wireless Internet.”

Ultimate Ice Cream, 1070 Tunnel Rd, Asheville and 197 Charlotte St, Asheville: Before you do anything else at Ultimate, taste their Vanilla ice cream. From that one taste, you’ll understand what amazing flavor to expect no matter what the flavor. Ice cream is made in-house at their new “factory”. Look for Untimate in area grocery stores.

Check out a video of the Food Network’s January, 2013 visit to Ultimate.

“Some refer to us as the microbrewery of ice cream, others think we are changing lives by way of ice cream.”

“At Ultimate we pride ourselves with the creativity of our flavor combinations and are constantly pushing the edge of gourmet ice creams, sorbets and gelato.”


What’s up with all the periodic table symbols randomly showing up? A renewed interest in science?

Periodic Table

Haute Chocolate – 916 Burke St NW Winston-Salem, NC. A great little artisan chocolate shop in Winston-Salem. More on them soon.

Haute Chocolate


Haute Chocolate

Breaking Bad Farewell

Breaking Bad

Blind Pig Breaking Bad Dinner

Breaking Bad